Who’s your favourite cricketer?

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< 1 minute read

And why?

We think we might be interested, but we reserve the right to change our opinion should you write 3,000 words without any line breaks.

Our favourite cricketer was Waqar Younis, as you’ll know if you used to read what was then The Wisden Cricketer. We don’t think the article in question appears on The Cricketer’s site any more, but it did feature on Cricinfo this week. Newer readers will hopefully enjoy it, while long-standing readers can bloody well force themselves to enjoy it again.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. Brian Charles Lara.

    The backlift. The records. The laid-back yet volatile temperament.

    When he arrived at Warwickshire in the mid 90s it really pushed my interest in cricket over to a full-on obsession. He was just head and shoulders above everyone else. And then some.

    Nice piece about Waquar, by the way. 113 championship wickets at 14.36!

    1. I am with Samit Patel here. Brian Charles Lara for me as well.

      It’s hard to argue a more eye-catching batsman existed. Except perhaps Murali.

  2. Mike Brearley. Middlesex, scorer of loads of runs, fellow philosopher who also chucked it for a better career, technical innovator, struggled at Test level (I like my flawed cricketers), could do a bit of mongrel when the chips were really down, last of the lob bowlers, simply the best speaker and writer on cricket I have heard/read, 1981 Ashes.

    Oh, and of course a captain who could absolutely do it all.

    1. Brearley’s a great one. He highlights how there’s more to the game than a mindless quest for numbers.

  3. Chris Lewis
    Neil Mallender
    Derek Pringle
    Tim Munton

    None of these is my favourite cricketer of course, but surely there is no finer way of expressing what English cricket in the 90s was all about. It’s brought a tear to my eye, KC. Thanks.

  4. Sir Isaac Vivian Richards – batsman
    Shane Warne – bowler
    Paul Collingwood – fielder
    Jack Russell – wicketkeeper

    1. Fielding’s underrated, which is odd because it’s probably the most spectacular element of the game.

  5. Harold Gimblett. Because of that first innings.

    Also Robin Marlar, because of the nightwatchman story.

    Of players I’ve actually seen play, probably Philip Veraint Simmons, for the way he dragged Leicestershire to the title in 1996.

    1. Well that much was obvious. Not sure why you felt the need to make it explicit, really.

      A fine, fine bowler, Ian. And not a bad bat either.

  6. Viv Richards

    Waqar is a great choice, along with several other fast bowlers who could change the game in an instant and dominate a match through attitude and pure aggression. But Richards was one and only batting equivalent of those chaps. Completely unique.

    I know it’s a much told story, but Richards getting hit in the face (no helmet, of course) by a lifting ball from Rodney Hogg is one of the best in cricket. He stood and stared at Hogg, chewing gum, then hooked his next ball for six, on the way to taking Hogg for 60 in six overs. His no-helmet approach was a calculated act of aggression, telling the bowler in plain terms “You are simply not fast enough to worry me.”

    (BTW, West Indies used four bowlers in that match: Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner. cf: The English version above.)

  7. Michael Hussey. I don’t like the nickname Mr.Cricket but I think he’s extremely dependable (except when he fails) and just seems to be a decent bloke. If we could only erase that captaincy record of his..

  8. No I’m not. Is there something wrong with that? I don’t think he is the greatest cricketer ever but he is my favourite.

    1. We wouldn’t say we’ve a soft spot for Hussey exactly, but we certainly don’t dislike him and we do rather admire his absolute relentlessness.

      He’s basically spent the last seven years saying: “Okay, you waited until I was 30 to pick me, but SOD YOU, I am going to make sure I play every match in every format from now until the end of time.”

      We feel like his astonishing international run-scoring is largely borne of feeling a bit irritated that it took people so long to pick him in the first place.

  9. Graeme Hick. Who can forget his seminal joint diary of the 1989 championship winning season, “Hick ‘n’ Dilley Circus”?

    1. Sorry, didn’t see this comment was awaiting moderation until just now. We’ve responded to a subsquent Hick selection further down the page.

  10. It would be remiss not to mention Robin Smith.Reasons[youtube: Robin Smith Ian Bishop]. The man had solid brass ones. Also, because I like my heroes flawed, his ineptitude against spin is a big plus.

  11. Virender Sehwag. For the Abdul Razzaq – Jeremy Snape story.

    And for trying to reach his double hundred with a six, getting caught, and then trying it again when he reached a double ton next time.

    And for generally making test cricket a completely different game to watch when he played.

    Oh and before he got banned for match fixing, Ajay Jadeja for hitting a reverse swinging Waqar Younis yorker for six over midwicket

    1. Thanks KC. I couldn’t find a link which didn’t have the story inside a long article. Why I ever thought of looking outside this site, ill never know.

  12. Is it too late to add Wasim to that list?

    For being able to do anything that any non-spinner has ever managed to do with a cricket ball. And do it better most of the time. And for those two balls in the world cup final.

  13. For me, it has to be Eddie Cowan. For pure, simple, bulldog bloody-mindedness. Sure, he’s not the first grafter, not very pretty to watch, but sitting in an Australian team with Ponting, Watson, Warner & being comfortable sitting at the crease and grinding out 18 runs in his first session.

    It helps that he’s far from a natural, and has made it anyway. It helps that he has a masters in business, and has written a book.

    Lots will disagree with me, because he’ll never be a great, but that’s ok. It’s the bloody-mindedness. Sitting there with an average in the 20’s and not getting out to the best bowling attack I.the world. Imagine their dressing room. Eddie-bloody-Cowan. Yep, that does it for me.

  14. Paul Collingwood, of course.

    For that catch.

    For letting me marvel at world class fielding, at the times when the rest of the England team were looking distinctly average.

    For the desperate attempts he made to make himself into a plug as England wickets were draining down the sink.

    And most of all, for that six against South Africa in 2008 to bring up his century.

    In fact, any partnership with Pietersen was worth watching. He seemed determined to prove he could keep up with the best. And he could.

    1. For us ‘that catch’ is of Matthew Hayden in the Twenty20 match before the 2005 Ashes. Are you referring to the same one? Because there are others.


      Our favourite bit is the sound the crowd makes when they see the replay. It’s not a sound you hear very often – thousands of people being similarly astonished.

  15. I really loved Nasser Hussain. Partly because he was supposed to be a spinner, got the yips at 15, and then made himself into an international batsman despite not really having the technique. But mostly because he so obviously hated losing, and never made his peace with it even though he spent most of his career in a team where losing happened a lot.

    Every detail of the following story is probably wrong, but the spirit of it is true: there was a match towards the end of Nasser’s career when England were in trouble – I’m thinking about 70-4. He’d been batting obdurately for a while, and then he tried to either hook or pull it, and just hit it straight up in the air. As soon as he realised what had happened, before it had even nearly been caught, he doubled up in agony and screamed “NO!” I don’t know if you could hear it through the stump mic, or if it was audible over the noise of the crowd, but it was loud. And either way, it seemed like the sound of genuine anguish.

    I think that’s important in a sportsman. You need to know that they actually give a damn. Otherwise it’s just 22 bad-haired idiots in a field wasting everyone’s time.

  16. Out of the current lot is has to be Dale Steyn. He’s fast, accurate and aggressive without feeling the need to showboat. He also manages this without being abnormally tall.
    I was also a big fan of Shoaib, the guy was very fast and more than a little crazy. Also big props to him for kicking Kamran Akmal, it may have cost him his career but it was long overdue.
    I can’t decide if the best player I’ve ever seen is Viv Richards or Richard Hadlee, they were both the best at what they did.

    1. Steyn is an aggressive and effective fast bowler on the field. The two don’t always go together. A lot of guys think it’s all about the short ball.

      He’s also a decent bloke off the field. We like that, because we hate caricatures.

  17. I always loved Graeme Hick and used to spend hours of my youth working out why Ray Illingworth was actually wrong to drop him and with a bit more love and tender care he’d have been England’s top run scorer…

    1. We did exactly the same thing and had a strong suspicion that someone would pick Hick and give that reason.

      It’s not dissimilar to the sentiments behind our Waqar selection. It’s all about hope. Hick at least promised great things. Any minute. Any minute now…

  18. Peter Kirsten.
    First time I saw this strange sport live on tv as a little ‘un (by chance – I was supposed to like rugby), was a provincial one-day match (Border vs some team), in which I started to realize the batting sides’ chances was nill. Yet this batsman was calm and seemed to bat properly and with pride. It confused me immensely and I immediately got hooked on cricket.

    1. That’s interesting in the sense that people from elsewhere will have little comprehension of that. Kirsten was hidden from view from us for the majority of his career.

  19. Is it too philistine of me to pick Sachin Tendulkar? The range of emotions he puts the whole of India through when he bats – hope, despair, euphoria and everything else in between makes him an utterly compelling batsman to watch. And his straight drive is some sight!!

    1. It’s possible to be too clever about these things. There are extremely good reasons for Sachin Tendulkar being someone’s favourite cricketer that don’t revolve around the relentless accumulation of hundreds.

  20. Shane Warne. I didn’t really respect spin bowling before Warne came on the scene.

    David Gower before that, because his batting taught me the meaning of the phrase “silky elegance”.

    Rahul Dravid after that, the shock of whose retirement I have still not been able to process.

    1. Gower pretty much cornered the market on silky elegance. Dress manufacturers are still struggling to compete.

    2. Good choice, Ritesh. I hesitated over Gower before plumping for Richards. He was ace. Dennis Lillee ranked him as the 3rd best batsman he’d played against (Sobers and Richards being the two higher), not because he would always score well, but because whether he scored well or not was entirely down to Gower. He might be out cheaply, but if he was in the mood there was nothing whatsoever a bowler could do about it.

    3. Allow me to gush a little bit more about SK Warne. Apart from his bowling, what makes Warne special is his absolute belief that he can win from any position. To me his refusal to give up was a much under-appreciated aspect of the 2005 Ashes contests. In that sense they were as much Warne’s Ashes as Flintoff’s.

      This self-belief and hunger for victory (sorry) transcended formats – I remember so many meaningless IPL games where Warne pushed his team hard long after the match was all but lost. When it came off, it was spectacular. When it didn’t it still made for riveting viewing. Imagine what he would have been like as captain of Australia!

    4. It would be completely ridiculous to suggest that Warne didn’t have respect before 2005, but seeing him in a close contest and ultimately defeat added an extra layer to that respect.

      This is actually the very heart of the reason why we don’t think much of Matthew Hayden. It’s not bitterness, because there are plenty of other Australians who’ve experienced huge success against England. It’s the feeling that he profited almost solely when the going was good.

  21. am i allowed to have Azhar for that 73 ball century against SA and ajit agarkar for no reasons at all as my Fav

  22. I cared not a jot for Derbyshire in the mid-90s (no offense meant to those who did), but I’d always look up their scorecard in the paper. I wanted to see if it had happened again. And I knew it probably wouldn’t have. Because it was so wonderfully implausible the first time around, when my Dad took me to see England – SA at the Oval in 1994. On his day, the man was ferocity personified.

    Devon Malcolm.

    I’d also echo everything everyone has said about Warne.

  23. Dilip Vengsarkar. A childhood favourite. There were many reasons to like his batting, tall upright stance, the most elegant straight drive, occasional puller but effective. But most of all being the anti Gavaskar in almost everything. Tall, not short, laid-back not confrontational, a complete introvert – you could never read anything about him whereas Gavaskar was all over the front and back pages.

    A very good post-playing career too. And also kudos to standing up to the BCCI and insisting on the selectors being paid and hence accountable for what they do. For that alone he deserves the most accolades. Respect, Colonel.

  24. Curtly Ambrose for his relentless refusal to give away runs and his capability to run through a team for fun on his day.

    Michael Vaughan’s cover drive deserves it’s own category.

    Ian Bell for making batting beautiful even if he’s not always as reliable as you’d hope

  25. As an 8 year old I was mocked publicly in class for saying I liked Kapil Dev more than Gavaskar. By the teacher, no less.

    Rajeev must have been a brave boy indeed.

    1. Oh I just blame it on naivety, false bravado not too far from foolishness. But yes, we Indians pick our heroes and then fight tooth and nail with everyone who won’t agree.

  26. Rahul Dravid. Beautiful to watch, solid as a rock, and simply what cricket is to me. Life was a little bit better when he was at the crease.

  27. Ricky Ponting, purely for his dismissal in today’s Adelaide Test. He is the gift that keeps on giving.

  28. Inzi. Watching him catch in the slips was good – watching him bat was incredible. His timing was superb and his running between the wickets maginificent.

  29. Imran Khan . Not for the obvious reasons though. Told off for being not fast enough at the beginning of his carrier, with sheer blood mindedness, he takes it up a notch. There is a story that while touring Australia he tore the collar of his shirt ( what was up with those body hugging clothes? ) so he could ball faster.
    Saqlain. Sheer joy to watch his stuttering run up . Used to bowl the death over too. Brilliant.Made me take up off spin bowling.

  30. I have to say, I prefer batsmen who make batting look like really really hard work (particularly left handers with a healthy appreciation for the legside). This means I pretty much adore Alastair Cook, have a healthy dose of respect for Graeme Smith (I still can’t work out how he scores so many runs whilst basically ignoring a 90 degree sector of the pitch), have massive respect for Shiv Chanderpaul and Simon Katich. I’m really not interersted in those that make batting look too easy. Where’s the fun in that?

  31. Imran Khan. For all the obvious reasons. [and also for helping me create a faux pas to get someone who was a Hugh Grant look alike to wear a security band when he didn’t want to]

    Paul Collingwood, for just getting on with it: unselfish partnership play, superb fielding and being a Captain that brought home the goods. There was also the time he squared up to Matthew Hayden, that was when he achieved that bit extra that a favorite cricketer needs!

    Mark Davies; but it is always best not to mention him. Lack of mention on here recently has meant he managed to play enough to be Kent player of the year! I’ve still never seen him bowl badly.

  32. my top 5.

    1.Curtly Ambrose
    2. Shane Warne
    3. Brian Lara
    4. Ricky Ponting
    5. Jacques Kallis

    the fact that im Australian shows you how much I admire Ambrose.

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